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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Roasts and Kebaps

Simit Kebabi; Ground Meat and Bulgur Kebabs, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab, Gaziantep Style

This delicious ground (minced) meat and bulgur kebab called Simit Kebabi, hails from Gaziantep, considered as one of the gastronomic capitals of Turkey. Fine bulgur is referred as Simit in Gaziantep and that’s where the kebab’s name come from (Simit is also the name of the popular Turkish street food, the sesame coated bread rings). Bulgur is an important ingredient in southern Turkish cooking; it appears in pilafs, mezzes like Icli Kofte, soups and in kebabs. Fine bulgur brings a wonderful texture and taste to this kebab, fragrantly spiced with cumin, red pepper flakes and dried mint. If you can’t find fine bulgur, you can ground the coarse bulgur in food processor in a couple of pulses; take care not to ground too much and turn the bulgur into fine powder.

Vakkas Usta preparing the meat using Zirh blade at Istanbul’s Şeyhmus Kebab; photo credit: IstanbulEats

It is important to have some fat content in the meat mixture for this kebab; traditionally, tail fat is included in this kebab in Gaziantep. The ustas, masters in Gaziantep prepare the ground (minced) meat for the Simit Kebabi, chopping by hand, using a special curved-bladed knife called Zirh. This method gives the meat a lot of flavor and much better texture; so if you can get your meat hand chopped by the butcher that would be great. If not, use ground lamb or beef with some good fat content in it.

I served my Simit Kebabi with roasted vegetables and garlic yoghurt by the side. You can wrap the kebab and roasted vegetables with a dollop of garlicy yoghurt, in Turkish flat breads or pita pockets. Here is my Turkish flat breads recipe if you’d like to make flat breads at home.

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab with roasted vegetables, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab with roasted vegetables, Gaziantep Style

This recipe is inspired and adapted from the wonderful Gaziantep Cookery, A Taste of Sun and Fire cookery book, edited by Aylin Oney Tan. I hope you enjoy this delicious southern Turkish style kebab.

My Turkish Cookery Class at the Divertiment Cookery School, London;

Tuesday 13th October, 7pm – 9.15pm

A quick reminder of my Turkish cookery class on Tuesday 13th October, 7pm – 9.15pm at Divertimenti Cookery School, London. I will be teaching how to recreate delicious, wholesome Turkish classics such a spinach and feta filo pie, Ispanakli Borek, Turkish classic stuffed aubergines, Karniyarik, Spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, Kisir and homemade baklava (much lighter and delicious!), along with tips and stories from my homeland. You will be amazed to see how easy each course is, also wholesome and packed with flavor. Here  is the class details. Booking is through the Divertimenti Cookery School, hope you can join us!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simit Kebabi; Ground Meat and Bulgur Kebabs, Gaziantep Style
 
This delicious ground (minced) meat and bulgur kebab called Simit Kebabi, hails from Gaziantep, one of the gastronomic capitals of Turkey. Serve this fragrantly spiced kebab with roasted vegetables and garlic yoghurt, in flat breads. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Southern Turkish, Gaziantep Style Kebab with Bulgur
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground (minced) lamb
  • 75 gr / 2.6 oz. / ⅓ cup fine bulgur (or coarse bulgur, grounded to fine bulgur in food processor)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 80 ml/ 2.7 fl. oz./ ⅓ cup hot water
  • 15 ml/ 3 tsp. red pepper flakes (or a bit less if you prefer less spicy)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Bowl of water to shape the simit kebab on skewers
  • For the roasted vegetables:
  • 2 medium eggplants (aubergines) quartered and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell (or pointy) pepper and 1 green bell (or pointy) pepper, deseeded and cut in chunks
  • 60 ml/ 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the garlicy yoghurt sauce:
  • 13 oz. / 1 ½ cup plain whole milk yoghurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt and finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
  2. Place the fine bulgur in a bowl and pour in the hot water. Combine well and set aside for 10 – 15 minutes for the bulgur to absorb all the water and soften.
  3. Place the soften bulgur in a large mixing bowl and stir in the garlic, ground (minced) meat, red pepper flakes, ground cumin and dried mint. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Have a bowl of water by your side. Wet your hands and knead the mixture well for 5 – 8 minutes, until all combined.
  4. Wet your hands and take a large lump of the meat mixture – just a bit less than ½ cup and form into a ball. Mold it around and along the skewer, until it is evenly thick. Squeeze and shape the meat gently so that the meat sticks to the skewer. Work meat around and down the skewer while rotating skewer with bottom hand until kebab is ¾" in diameter. Cover the skewered meat in cling film and refrigerate until firm, for about 30 minutes.
  5. Now prepare your vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in zebra stripes. Cut the eggplants lengthways, and then slice about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel. On a baking tray, spread the eggplant slices, chopped onions and the colorful peppers. Drizzle 4 tbsp. the olive oil over them and season with salt and black pepper. Coat all the pieces with olive oil and seasoning. Bake in the preheated oven for about for about 35 minutes, until they are chargrilled around the edges.
  6. To bake the Simit Kebabi, grease a baking tray and arrange the prepared kebab skewers side by side. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. water over them and place a (heat resistant) bowl of water at the bottom of the oven (this will keep the kebabs moist). Bake the kebabs for 35 – 40 minutes, turning them half way around.
  7. You can also grill the kebabs over a medium charcoal fire, turning frequently in the same direction. Or you can grill kebabs on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked through, for 12-15 minutes.
  8. To make garlicy yoghurt; crush a small garlic clove with salt and chop finely. Stir in to the yoghurt and combine well.
  9. Serve the Simit Kebab hot, along with the roasted vegetables, garlicy yoghurt and flat breads. You can wrap the kebab and roasted vegetables with a dollop of garlicy yoghurt, in Turkish flat breads or pita pockets too. Afiyet Olsun.

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Eggplant kebab with yoghurt marinated chicken; Patlicanli Kebap

Baked eggplant kebab with chicken, onions, peppers; Patlicanli Tepsi Kebabi

Baked eggplant kebab with chicken, onions, peppers; Patlicanli Tepsi Kebabi

Merhaba all; we had a delightful Turkish cookery class recently and this baked eggplant or aubergine kebab with chicken, onions and peppers was a big hit at the class.

This is a southern Turkish style kebab, prepared at homes. The aubergines (eggplants) are double baked in this recipe, Southern Turkish style, which intensify their flavor. In Southern part of Turkey, especially in the regions of Gaziantep and Antakya, locals would use up the left over grilled or barbecued eggplants to make this delicious, home style kebab the next day. A tradition in Antakya is to prepare the kebab at home and take the tray to the local bakery to be baked in the wood fired oven, providing amazing, melt-in-the mouth flavors. I hope you enjoy recreating this lovely, impressive dish in your home for family and friends.

Tip: Marinating the chicken in yoghurt, olive oil, Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi and spices is really well worth the effort; it tenderizes the chicken and enables the flavors to blend well.

Baked eggplant kebab with chicken, onions, peppers; Patlicanli Tepsi Kebabi

Baked eggplant or aubergine kebab with chicken, onions, peppers; Patlicanli Tepsi Kebabi

I am passionate about delicious, wholesome Turkish cuisine and it is a pleasure to share authentic Turkish recipes from my southern Turkish roots. This delicious kebab and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Signed copies are now 25 % OFF  from this link, and it is delivered worldwide, including the US and Canada, if you’d like to get a signed copy, ebook and kindle options available here too. We also have this lovely Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron with my hometown Antakya’s celebrated daphne leaves embroidered in the design, it can be a lovely gift to a foodie.

I hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.0 from 4 reviews
Eggplant kebab with yoghurt marinated chicken; Patlicanli Kebap
 
This is a southern Turkish style kebab, prepared at homes. The aubergines (eggplants) are double baked in this recipe, Southern Turkish style, which intensify their flavor. Marinating the chicken in yoghurt, olive oil, tomato paste and red pepper paste is well worth the effort, as it tenderizes the chicken and enables the flavors to blend well. I hope you enjoy this delightful, home style baked aubergine kebab with chicken and vegetables.
Author:
Recipe type: Southern Turkish style baked kebabs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
  • 700 gr / 1.5 lb. chicken thighs or chicken breast, skinned and cut in 4x4 cm (1.6” x 1.6”) chunks
  • 2 red Romano (pointy) or bell peppers, deseeded and sliced in chunks
  • 1 green (pointy or bell) pepper, deseeded and sliced in chunks
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 45 ml / 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the chicken marinade:
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. plain whole milk yoghurt
  • ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste (optional)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil to sauté the marinated chicken
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper paste or 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. Peel the aubergines (eggplants) in zebra stripes, using a vegetable peeler or a small knife. Cut the aubergines in lengthways then in 1cm (0.4”) thick slices. Place the slices on a tray and sprinkle salt over them (The salt will help extract the bitter juices out of the aubergines). Set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Stir in the yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if using) and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste and combine and mix the chicken pieces with the marinade. Cover the marinade and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes (you can prepare this marinade ahead of time, even overnight and leave in the fridge).
  4. Using kitchen paper towel, squeeze the excess moisture out of the aubergines. Place the aubergines on a tray and drizzle 3 tbsp. olive oil over them. Coat the pieces with the olive oil and partially bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan and stir in the marinated chicken pieces. Sauté over medium to high heat for 4 – 5 minutes, turn the heat off.
  6. Once the aubergine slices partially baked, prepare the chicken & aubergine bake with vegetables. In a large baking dish, place a chicken piece next to onion, pepper (alternating red and green pepper pieces) and aubergine slices. Keep on placing chicken and vegetables in this order side by side, until all the chicken and vegetables are layered. Spread any remaining aubergine slices at the top.
  7. To prepare the sauce, stir in the red pepper paste, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and the water to the pan used for sautéing the chicken. Combine all, also using any leftover chicken marinade sauce in the pan. Pour in this mixture over your tray with the chicken, aubergine and vegetables.
  8. Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, until chicken and vegetables are cooked and turned light golden color.
  9. Serve hot with plain rice or bulgur pilaf aside.
Notes
Marinating the chicken in yoghurt, olive oil, Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi and spices is really well worth the effort; it tenderizes the chicken and enables the flavors to blend well.

 

 

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A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul

 

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

We had a flying visit to Istanbul last weekend; packed with family and friends to see, my niece’s beautiful wedding and delicious Turkish food to savor; every minute of it was special. And what better greeting than of seeing Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings upon arrival, a very warm welcome that I couldn’t resist.

My dear sister Oznur and fellow blogger Senior Dogs Abroad timely informed me that the Yenikapi Metro train line is now connected to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It’s indeed joyful news; we took the metro train line from the airport all the way to 4th Levent – a seamless, smooth journey just over 1 hour and great value. I highly recommend using the Metro train line from Ataturk Airport to all the way to Taksim and beyond.

Kofteci Huseyin – Beyoglu, Istanbul:

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu - Istanbul

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu – Istanbul

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Just before I departed for Istanbul, I got a note from a reader, Chris, asking if I can visit Kofteci Huseyin in BeyogluIstanbul (address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu – Istanbul). Apparently he had one of the best koftes, Turkish meatballs there and the tomato based sauce served with the meatballs there was just amazing. Well, I had a packed schedule but now was so curious about Kofteci Huseyin that I had to make it and so glad I did. Tucked behind Beyoglu, Kofteci Huseyin is a tiny lokanta, serving the very best Turkish meatballs with fasulye piyazi, Turkish bean salad with onions, since 1958. You are greeted with a warm smile and your koftes are made to order in front of you and served with freshly baked somun ekmek, Turkish bread with piyaz. You can tell they are passionate about their kofte; sourcing out their meat from local butchers, prepared lovingly. Kofteci Huseyin says “They ask me why I don’t serve soup or desserts; making kofte is what I do best and that’s our specialty. Every day we make kofte out of 40 kg of minced (ground beef), onion and bread crumbs and once the meat is finished, our job is finished for the day too, around 4 pm. They ask me why I don’t serve in the evenings; well, there are friends and family to see, time to pause, until the next kofte tomorrow”. I liked his way of thinking.

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Chris especially wanted to know how they make the delicious tomato based sauce served next to the Turkish meatballs, koftes there. It’s a secret recipe apparently, though they revealed there’s crushed tomatoes and Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber in it. I have a feeling there’s also a touch of Biber Salcasi, Turkish hot pepper paste in the sauce, adding a spicy peppery flavor. Kofteci Huseyin is a delightful, small kofteci if you happen to be at Beyoglu area and I am grateful that Chris asked me to investigate. If you’d like to make kofte at home, here is my kofte, Turkish meatballs recipe 101.

Sahi Istanbul:

Meeting up with friends at Sahi Istanbul.

Meeting up with friends, Cicekten and Revan at Sahi Istanbul.

Have you discovered the beautiful Sahi Istanbul in Karakoy?  Founded by ex-colleague and dear friend Cicekten, Sahi Istanbul is home from home for me, offering the best of authentic , genuine Turkish design (as its name refers to), with traditional and contemporary objects, sourced from Turkish artisans all around Turkey. I love the beautiful hand decorated ceramics, locally sourced textiles and the authentic Turkish delights I long to taste there, whenever I am home. It was a delightful to stop by at Sahi Istanbul meeting with friends and Cicekten showered us with the best possible Turkish hospitality.

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep.

 

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Homemade Turkish delights (which you can have a go at making them at Sahi Istanbul – Karakoy); scrumptious boreks, pastries and the original baklava sourced from Gaziantep; we washed them all down with endless glasses of Turkish tea, cay and chats. Please pay a visit to Sahi Istanbul if you can, you won’t be disappointed. Sahi Istanbul’s website in English will also be available shortly.

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics, books and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Sahi Istanbul also very generously gave away their authentic Turkish bracelets and Turkish homemade soaps for my Turkish cookery classes at the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US in February 2014. Special gifts to showcase Turkish crafts and hospitality, I am very grateful to their generosity.

A Delightful Meet up over Turkish Breakfast:

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together with Senior Dogs

No visit to Turkey is complete without a leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends and family, my favorite meal of the day. Just before our departure, we managed to sit at our local café by the Bosphorus with my parents, my sister and family and dear friends and fellow bloggers Senior Dogs Abroad.  Senior Dogs live in Istanbul and blogs about life in Turkey (as well as world affairs) and I have been meaning to introduce them to my parents. My parents were delighted and so impressed with their Turkish and even more that they will be traveling to Eastern Turkey shortly. We lived in Elazig at the southeast of Turkey over 8 years when I was a child and my parents were eager to give as many tips as to where to visit- we all look forward to their adventures up there, not to be missed! As always, it was a delightful few hours spent together with family and friends.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers  is a favorite with us; delicious for a leisurely brunch or a light supper, it is so easy to make it at home too; here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Time to say farewell and hope to see you soon, Istanbul; a special city that calls for us often.

Afiyet Olsun ve Yine Gorusmek Dilegiyle,

Ozlem

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s e-book, Spice Up Your Celebration is out now!!

spiceupyourcelebration3D-680x1079I really am delighted to see that dear friend and fellow blogger Peri’s Spice Ladle’s ebook, Spice Up Your Celebration; Indian Inspired recipes for Occasions, Holidays and Entertaining is out now! We have been enjoying Peri’s delicious and easy to follow Indian recipes for a long time and she really made me appreciate a variety of spices to incorporate our dishes through her wonderful, Indian inspired delicious recipes. This gem of a book is a great source to make and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine in the comfort of your home; it’s a keeper in our home and I hope you enjoy it too. You can view the details of the Spice Up Your Celebration ebook through here. Enjoy!

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